PCHR Condemns the Kidnapping of the Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister

Palestinians attend a sit-in against the arrest of Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Al-Sha’er in front of the Red Cross in the West Bank city of Hebron, August 19, 2006. (MaanImages/Mamoun Wazwaz)

PCHR strongly condemns the abduction of the Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Dr. Naser El-Deen El-Sha’er, by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) from his house in Ramallah. The abduction is a continuation of the campaign against Palestinian Government Ministers and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from the pro-Hamas “Change and Reform List.” The Centre views the abduction as a continuation of the efforts to undermine the results of the free and democratic elections of 25 January 2006 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Furthermore, the Centre views the abduction as a form of reprisal against civilians and a form of collective punishment, which are outlawed by article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 01:00 on Saturday, 19 August 2006, an IOF contingent moved into Ramallah and surrounded the residence of Dr. Naser El-Deen El-Sha’er (45) in the Maysoon Quarter. Through loudspeakers, IOF ordered Dr. El-Sha’er to surrender to them. Immediately afterwards, IOF troops stormed the residence and detained Dr. El-Sha’er with his wife and children looking on. IOF took him to an undisclosed location. Dr. El-Sha’er’s wife, Huda, stated that IOF conducted the arrest very quickly. She pointed that the whole siege and arrest operation lasted about 10 minutes.

It is noted the Dr. El-Sha’er, who is originally from the town of Sabsateyya, northwest of Nablus, is a Ph.D. holder in comparative religion. He was the dean of Shari’a School at El-Najah University. He was detained by IOF two times prior to this abduction. The last detention was last October, where he spent four months under administrative detention.

It is noted that on 6 August 2006, IOF detained Dr. Aziz Dweik, the PLC Speaker. And on 29 June 2006, IOF detained eight Cabinet Ministers and twenty-one PLC members from the pro-Hamas parliamentary bloc, as well as Hamas political leaders. And on 6 July 2006, IOF detained the second deputy speaker of the PLC, Dr. Hasan Khreisha. He was released on 30 July 2006 after posting a 10,000 New Israeli Shekel bail.

IOF released the Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Wasfi Qabha, and the Minister of Labor, Mohammad El-Barghouthi.

PCHR condemns the abduction of the Deputy Prime Minister, and:

1. Stresses that the detention is part of a plan to undermine the democratically-elected government and PLC;

2. Stresses that the detention is a form of reprisal and collective punishment against Palestinian civilians;

3. Calls upon international organizations, including human rights organizations, to work towards the release of the Deputy Prime Minister, PLC Speaker, and the other Ministers and PLC members imprisoned by IOF;

4. Renews the call to the international community to take immediate and effective action to protect Palestinian civilians in accordance with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, so as to end the deterioration of the situation in the OPT; and

5. Calls upon the international community to stop the deterioration of the situation in the OPT, and to lift the blockade against the democratically-elected Palestinian government.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent legal body based in Gaza City dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, the dÚration Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. PCHR is a recipient of the 1996 French Republic Award for Human Rights.